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Posts for November, 2013

Vatican Surveys Parishes on Gays, Divorce, Contraception

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2013

In preparation for the Vatican Synod on “Pastoral Challenges of the family in the context of evangelization” called by Pope Francis for next October, the Vatican is asking bishops around the world to conduct a wide-ranging poll asking Catholics their opinions on a number of church teachings, including same-sex marriage, contraception and divorce. The independent National Catholic Reporter has the details:

Among topics bishops’ conferences are asked in the Vatican document to question their Catholic populations about:

  • How the church’s teaching on “the value of the family” is understood today. “In those cases where the Church’s teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice?” the document asks. “If so, what are they?”
  • Whether cohabitation, the problem of divorce and remarriage, and same-sex marriages are a “pastoral reality” in their church. “Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases?” the document asks. “How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?”
  • How persons in same-sex marriages are treated and how children they may adopt are cared for. “What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live these types of union?” it asks. “In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?”
  • Whether married couples have “openness” to becoming parents and whether they accept Humanae Vitae, an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI that prohibited artificial contraception use by Catholics. “Is this moral teaching accepted?” it asks. “What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?”

The documents accompanying the survey reveal a tension within the Church. Since his election just seven months ago, Pope Francis has signaled a willingness to open the church up and change its approach to LGBT Catholics. And on the one hand, this unprecedented survey represents a huge change to the way the Vatican has traditionally done business. On the other hand, some of the documents deploy  some of the more traditional cultural-warfare talking points:

Concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation, which does not lead to marriage, and sometimes even excludes the idea of it, to same-sex unions between persons, who are, not infrequently, permitted to adopt children. The many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care include: …relativist pluralism in the conception of marriage; the influence of the media on popular culture in its understanding of marriage and family life; underlying trends of thought in legislative proposals which devalue the idea of permanence and faithfulness in the marriage covenant; an increase in the practice of surrogate motherhood (wombs for hire); and new interpretations of what is considered a human right. Within the Church, faith in the sacramentality of marriage and the healing power of the Sacrament of Penance show signs of weakness or total abandonment.

Degrading rhetoric aside — wombs for hire? — the document does illustrate the crisis that the Church faces, particularly in the West and especially among young people:

Consequently, we can well understand the urgency with which the worldwide episcopate is called upon to gather cum et sub Petro to address these challenges. For example, by simply calling to mind the fact that, as a result of the current situation, many children and young people will never see their parents receive the sacraments, then we understand just how urgent are the challenges to evangelization arising from the current situation, which can be seen in almost every part of the “global village”. Corresponding in a particular manner to this reality today is the wide acceptance of the teaching on divine mercy and concern towards people who suffer on the periphery of societies, globally and in existential situations. Consequently, vast expectations exist concerning the decisions which are to be made pastorally regarding the family.

It’s not clear exactly how widespread the questionnaire will be distributed. A letter accompanying the US version of the survey simply asks the bishops “to share it immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local source can be received.” The survey period ends December 31, with reports due to the Vatican by the end of January. A spokesperson for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told NCR, “It will be up to each bishop to determine what would be the most useful way of gathering information to provide to Rome.” Meanwhile, NCR reports that Bishops in England and Wales have posted a survey online. That survey is in essay form rather than multiple choice, asking participants such questions as:

  • Is the idea of the natural law in the union between a man and a woman commonly accepted as such by the baptized in general?
  • How is the theory and practice of natural law in the union between man and woman challenged in light of the formation of a family? How is it proposed and developed in civil and Church institutions?
  • Is cohabitation ad experimentum a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage?
  • Do unions which are not recognized either religiously or civilly exist? Are reliable statistics available?
  • What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
  • What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
  • In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
  • What is the estimated proportion of children and adolescents in these cases, as regards children who are born and raised in regularly constituted families?
  • How do parents in these situations approach the Church? What do they ask? Do they request the sacraments only or do they also want catechesis and the general teaching of religion?
  • How do the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children to provide them with a Christian education?

That last question can be a tricky one in the U.S., where there have been several cases of children being barred from Catholic schools because their same-sex parents have decided to live together as a couple or marry.

So After Pope Francis’s Opening, These Things Happened

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2013

After the Jesuit magazine America published an interview with Pope Francis last week in which the pontiff chastised the church for “insist(ing) only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” a couple of events took place which, in my view, reinforced my caution that while we can be greatly encouraged by Francis’s comments, its important not to get too carried away. Specifically, I pointed out that nothing in church doctrine had changed. Further, I cautioned that just as under Benedict XVI, the entire Church was not the Pope and hierarchy, but the laity as well; so, too, today the entire Church is not the Pope and laity, but the hierarchy as well. A couple of events since last week bring all of that back into sharp focus.

First, there’s the excommunication of the former Father Greg Reynolds, of Melbourne, Australia. Fr. Reynolds says that he was excommunicated over his support for women’s ordination and gay Catholics. That excommunication took place last May, before the Pope’s more recent comments and before his comment last July responding to a question about gay priests with another question: “Who am I to judge?” Chronology may or may not explain the church’s inconsistency in its approach to Reynolds. Another explanation may be found in this report by the independent and often critical National Catholic Reporter:

The letter, a copy of which NCR obtained and translated, accuses Reynolds of heresy (Canon 751) and determined he incurred latae sententiae excommunication for throwing away the consecrated host or retaining it “for a sacrilegious purpose” (Canon 1367). It also referenced Canon 1369 (speaking publicly against church teaching) in its review of the case.

I have no idea as to the circumstances or veracity of that middle accusation. It may be real, or it may be a red herring. Of the three accusations, that one by far would be the most serious, and its inclusion here greatly clouds the issue. Reynolds has addressed the first and third accusation, but so far I’ve found no comments from anyone on the second one, except for Reynold’s broader comments saying he doesn’t know why he was excommunicated. As I said, there may be nothing to it, or there may be more than Fr. Reynolds is disclosing. Until that is sorted out, the question of Reynolds’s excommunication remains not so cut-and-dried in my mind.

Much less murky is the decision by Providence College, a Catholic institution in Rhode Island, to rescind its invitation to John Corvino, chair of Wayne State University’s philosophy department, to discuss the ethics (and not the theology) of gay marriage in a debate with a Providence theologian. Corvino’s invitation, which was co-sponsored by nine departments and programs, was cancelled in an announcement last Saturday by college provost and senior vice president Hugh F. Lena, who cited a church document that says that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” This, of course, wasn’t an “honor,” but a debate and discussion, which, last I checked, was supposed to be one of the hallmarks of higher education. Corvino responded:

The reference to “awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” applies, for example, to allowing such politicians to present commencement addresses or to receive honorary degrees. By contrast, I am an academic speaker. Both the person introducing me and I would state clearly that my views were not those of the Catholic Church; moreover, a respondent from the Providence College theology department, Dr. Dana Dillon, would follow immediately to explain the Church’s position on marriage. Far from suggesting “support” for my views, the College would have ample opportunity to express precisely the opposite.

The silver lining however is a pretty big one. It exposes Providence College to suspicions that it is not confident in its ability to defend church doctrine when it comes to marriage equality. That’s a pretty pathetic patch of ground for a supposedly prestigious Catholic college to stand on, if you ask me. Also, the timing of the cancellation’s announcement — on the Saturday after Pope Francis’s interview went online — couldn’t have been better to guarantee the most favorable publicity. For Corvino:

So, Providence College has done wonders for my media exposure. In the last 24 hours I’ve talked to The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Huffington Post, the Providence Journal, the Detroit Free Press, a half dozen radio producers (I’m about to go on WPRO with former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci), and MSBNC (which may have me on “Last Word” tomorrow or Thursday night).

Follow the Money: Catholic Groups Emerge As Largest Donors In Marriage Battles

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2012

Simultaneous to Equally Blessed’s report on the Knights of Columbus’ extensive donations against marriage equality since 2005, the Human Rights Campaign released its tabulations of contributions to the four 2012 battleground states in which marriage proposals are on the ballot. According to the HRC’s calculations, the Catholic Church and its affiliate organizations are providing more than half of the funds that have been raised so far against marriage equality in each of the four battleground states.

The major sources of funding include various dioceses and parishes of the Catholic Church itself, the Catholic charitable organization the Knights of Columbus, and the National Organization for Marriage, which has extensive ties to the Catholic hierarchy. The breakdown of Catholic spending against marriage equality in 2012 goes like this:

Minnesota: Of the nearly $1.2 million raised so far, $600,000 has come from the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense fund, $135,000 from the Knights of Columbus and its local chapters, $188,200 from Catholic dioceses and parishes across the nation, and $23,000 from NOM. Nearly 78% of Minnesota’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Maryland: Of the $855,00 raised so far, $250,000 has come from the Knights of Columbus, $400,000 from NOM, and $12,000 from the Maryland Catholic Conference. About 77% of Maryland’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Washington: Of the 1.6 million raised so far, $675,939 has come from NOM, $250,000 from the Knights of Columbus, another $4,000 from a local Knights chapter, $5,000 from St. Monica Parish. About 58% of Washington’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Maine: Of the $446,317 raised so far, $263,324 has come from NOM, and $1,135 from the Knights of Columbus. About 59% of Maine’s anti-marriage funding has come from those two sources.

These activities contrast sharply to public opinion polls which show that Roman Catholics increasingly support marriage quality for gays and lesbians. A Public Religion Research Poll in 2011 showed that nearly three quarters of self-identified Roman Catholics support civil recognition of marriage or civil unions, with 64% of weekly churchgoing Catholics holding that same opinion. In 2012, Catholic support for marriage equality has risen noticeably, particularly when the question is framed in terms of civil marriage. When same-sex marriage is defined as a civil marriage “like you get at city hall,” Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%. (This large jump is undoubtedly due to the fact that Catholics — divorced Catholics in particular — are very attuned to the distinction between a civil marriage and a church marriage.) This latest data demonstrates a growing divide between lay Catholics and the actions of the Catholic Church and its affiliated institutions.

Andrew Comiskey To Speak at Catholic Ex-Gay Conference

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2012

As I mentioned in today’s Daily Agenda, the Catholic ex-gay organization Courage will be holding its annual conference on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Most of the speakers lined up for the conference are relatively unknown outside of the Catholic/Courage world, but one names stands out: Andrew Comiskey, Executive Director of Desert Stream Ministries, who recently pulled out of the Exodus umbrella. As I noted before, Comiskey appears to be leaning much more toward Catholic theology, which made his theological dispute with Exodus president Alan Chambers rather interesting, to say the least.

Comiskey also split with Exodus over the latter organization’s decision to distance itself from Reparative Therapy, which remains an important component in DSM. While Courage has typically shied away from encouraging members to seek sexual orientation change as a goal, it has nevertheless promoted the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), including a direct link to “NARTH testimonies” under Courage’s “Member Testimonies” web page.

Comiskey will give two talks at the Courage conference. On Friday, he will deliver the evening plenary talk, “Naked Surrender: Coming Home to Our True Sexuality”, and on Saturday he will give a workshop on “Restoring Relational Integrity through the Broken Body of Christ.”

It’s probably not unprecedented for a non-Catholic to give a talk at a Courage Conference, but it’s also hard to image Comiskey being given a platform for either of these two talks unless they are fully in line with Catholic teachings. If it turns out that Comiskey is increasingly finding a home in the Catholic world, it remains to be seen what kinds of strains Comiskey’s theological outlook may induce within Desert Stream’s far-flung ministries or with potential tie-ups with other ex-gay ministries which have recently left Exodus, all of which have deep historic roots in Protestant Evangelicalism.

Update: I had missed this, but as William commented below, Comiskey announced in January that he converted to Catholicism the prior Easter. He should fit in well. In 2010, Comiskey posted an admission on his blog that a staffer at DSM had sexually abused at least one teenager under their care. But instead of publicly apologizing for the appalling transgression or expressing anguish over the teen’s abuse, he lamented his trauma from having been interrogated by police and worrying about liability insurers. And he expressed gratitude that “God spared us” from the humiliation of the story appearing in the newspapers. He’s only been a Catholic for a little over a year, but already he’s qualified to be a Bishop.

Santorum’s New Hampshire Catholic problem

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2012

New Hampshire is about 35% Catholic and when you consider those who vote in the Republican primary, I suspect the percentage is higher. Which is really bad news for Rick Santorum, the candidate running to bring US law into conformity with Vatican dictates.

Because “Catholic” in New Hampshire isn’t the same thing as Catholic in the Santorum household (Wall Street Journal)

An October poll by the University of New Hampshire found that state voters overall opposed the repeal bill two-to-one. Among likely GOP primary voters, 47% opposed repeal versus 39% in favor, the poll found.

Pirozzi Monier, a Goffstown, N.H., retiree who was at a town hall held by candidate Rick Santorum Thursday night, says she has “deeply rooted Roman Catholic” beliefs, but said, “Would I be opposed to friends getting married who are gay? No.”

In what she described as a typical New Hampshire attitude, she said she believes in staying out of her friends and neighbors’ business. “I’m old Yankee stock,” she said. ‘Good fences make good neighbors.”

Thomas More Law Center – a rare glimpse at evil

Timothy Kincaid

December 19th, 2011

The Thomas More Law Center is the Catholic version of the Alliance Defense Fund. Created by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan as part of his billion dollar campaign to promote Catholicism (of the more fanatical Mel Gibson variety), it exists to defend the “religious freedom” of Catholics, a notion which seems to be based on the presumption that Catholics have the God-given freedom to dictate all matters of social or civil policy. Among the sparks of brilliance that have graced its board have been presidential candidates Alan Keyes and Rick Santorum.

Thomas More Law Center is perhaps best known for losing a lawsuit seeking to force Planned Parenthood to warn about (unproven) links to breast cancer, losing the defense of a website which encouraged the murder of abortion doctors, losing a case against Ann Arbor Public School District to stop it from providing insurance benefits to same-sex partners, seeking to interfere in Judge Roy Moore’s failed attempt to thwart the courts and erect a huge “Ten Commandments monument” at the Alabama Supreme Court, shopping school districts until it found one willing to go to court to defend “intelligent design” and then losing the case, unsuccessfully suing Los Angeles County when it removed a small cross from the county seal, and authoring an amendment to repeal non-discrimination protection in Gainsville, FL, which the voters soundly rejected.

Though they have won some cases, the term that comes to mind isn’t “winners”.

While they rely primarily on the pro-bono contributions of devout Catholic lawyers, Richard Thompson is the Law Center’s President and Chief Counsel and the current mental giant directing the organization’s path. Thompson did pass the bar exam in Michigan so he can’t literally be dumber than a box of rocks. But when it comes to matters where his faith and reality conflict, he and the other Thomas More lawyers seem to contain the ability to believe and argue the absurd. In fact, their irrationality is only outpaced by their smug contempt and their shocking nastiness.

Take, for example, his latest denunciation of a gay teacher in Howell, Michigan. First let me give you the back story

  • On October 20, 2010, teacher Jay McDowell wore a purple shirt to class to express solidarity with students who are bullied for being (or being perceived as) gay or lesbian. Specifically, McDowell was responding to the suicide of Tyler Clementi two weeks earlier.
  • This led to a discussion about bullying and why it should be opposed.
  • One student, who had come to class with a Confederate Flag belt buckle was asked by McDowell to remove the item (she did).
  • In response, student Daniel Glowacki declared that he opposes rainbow flags because, “I don’t accept Gays. It is against my religion. I am Catholic.”
  • McDowell attempted to explain how “I don’t accept” followed by any group was disruptive and when the student refused to back down, suspended him and another student from the class for the day.
  • The school board responded by accusing McDowell of bullying the students, of denying their right to “not accept” their fellow students and in response to his defense of gay students from being bullied (or “not accepted”), they order him to “cease from engaging in the promotion of your personal social issues.”

But that just wasn’t good enough for the budding gay-not-accepter or his mother. No, he has been “blasted” as being a bigot and accused of hate. So on behalf of him and his mother, Thomas More is suing the school district. They want the school’s harassment speech policy to be declared unconstitutional, and that the district’s “training, supervision, policies, practices, customs, and/or procedures that promote a school environment that favors homosexuality and disfavors religious viewpoints that oppose homosexuality violate [bullys'] fundamental constitutional
rights to freedom of speech and the equal protection of the law.” Oh, and money.

The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit yesterday afternoon against the Howell Public School District located in Howell, Michigan, and teacher, Johnson (“Jay”) McDowell, for punishment and humiliation heaped on a student after he expressed his religious belief opposing homosexuality when asked by the teacher during class.

By taking a look at this lawsuit, we can see not only why they fail so very often but also a glimpse into mindset that is so shockingly based in hatred and contempt that it distorts reality and leaves its victims incapable of rational thought.

Let me pause for a moment here to remind you that the Thomas More Law Center is a law firm, and thus is supposed to base its argument in fact and law. It is also a Catholic advocacy group and is supposed to base its ideology in the teachings of Christ and the traditions of the Church.

It is not the KKK.

I remind you of this because as we delve into the lawsuit presented in federal court, you may find yourself wondering about the degree of depravity and viciousness necessary to file this piece of filth. You may find yourself breathless and confused at the contrast between the Catholic Church declaring this to be a time of peace on Earth in which we reflect on a God who loves us, and the unvarnished hatred spewed in this document.

To introduce you to the mindset, let me present the words of Richard Thompson on this matter, (WorldNetDaily)

“It defies common sense for schools to ban all sorts of unhealthy foods while at the same time promoting the homosexual lifestyle, which hard statistics show increases drug abuse, suicides and reduces the life expectancies by several years. Schools that promote such lifestyles are engaging in a form of child abuse,” he said.

In this direct comparison, Thompson asserts that just like eating certain foods, “the homosexual lifestyle” (we’ll get to his definition later) directly causes increased drug abuse, suicides and reduced life expectancies. Cause and effect. Just like avoiding bad foods, avoiding “the homosexual lifestyle” can keep one from these risks of increased drug abuse, suicides and reduced life expectancies.

I don’t know what “hard statistics” he is referring to for his drug abuse claim. And I’ll discuss suicide in a moment. But those who read here know full well that his claim that “the homosexual lifestyle… reduces the life expectancies by several years” is a pernicious lie based on fraudulent “research” by Paul Cameron which has not only been proven to be false (in no small part by Box Turtle Bulletin) but has been denounced by all reputable scientists and scholars, including a number of conservative Christians. It is not fathomable that Thompson is unaware of this lie, and so I can only conclude that lying is intrinsic to his nature and a reflection of his moral condition.

But that is just the polished up portion presented for public consumption. In the brief – which is assumed not to be of interest to the average person – true evil arises.

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines evil thusly: “Evil – In a large sense, described as the sum of the opposition, which experience shows to exist in the universe, to the desires and needs of individuals; whence arises, among humans beings at least, the sufferings in which life abounds.” It is a term that is fraught with religious overtones. For our secular readers, it can seem gothic or irrelevant to modern discourse. Comical, even.

But as a Christian I take the concept seriously, and I don’t use the word “evil” lightly. Though it sounds like a phrase from a bad 70′s horror flick, evil exists. And I believe that as we progress you will understand why I see this intentional abandonment of decency, love, compassion, and all that is good, when placed in a religious context, as nothing other than evil.

I’ll only offer three passages from the brief. You can read the rest if you can stomach it. First is how Muise set up the scenario.

34. On or before October 20, 2010, the School District permitted teachers at Howell High School to sell purple t-shirts with the slogan “Tyler’s Army” to other students and teachers to promote the 2010 Spirit Day at the high school.

35. “Tyler’s Army” is a reference to Tyler Clementi. While a freshman at Rutgers University, Tyler had sex with another male student in his dorm room. Tyler’s homosexual acts were captured on video and posted on the Internet. Embarrassed and ashamed, Tyler committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge.

For clarity, let’s recall that when TMLC says Tyler “had sex” and discuss his “homosexual acts”, they were limited to kissing and hugging. Further, there is no evidence – strike that – there is no suggestion of any possible hint at a likelihood that Tyler was “ashamed”. Ashamed means that Clementi felt remorse for actions that he took, that his conscience convicted him of his behavior that was dishonorable. Clementi wasn’t ashamed – he had no reason to be.

Tyler committed suicide because a cruel person, his roommate Dharun Ravi, video taped him in a private moment and intentionally subjected him to public humiliation.

But the Thomas More Law Center exonerates Ravi. It sees the villain in the situation clearly: to TMCL the real person who is “to blame” is Tyler Clementi, for his “destructive lifestyle”. Bullying isn’t the problem, it is to be commended. Bullying is to be protected. Bullying is godly.

40. The purpose of the “anti-bullying” day, the “Tyler’s Army” t-shirts, and the movie was to indoctrinate students into believing that homosexuality is normal and to shift the blame for the destructive lifestyle of homosexuals to those who believe it is wrong and immoral.

Only those who hate homosexual persons – not “the sin”, not “intrinsic disorder”, but the actual gay people – could find virtue in bullying. Only truly those consumed by hatred would find excuses for the behavior of Ravi or suppose that Clementi experienced “shame”. Only those who presume as a matter of course, contrary to all evidence given by gay people, that homosexuality inherently produces shame would make such a claim.

But the real revelation of the mindset of Daniel Glowacki, his mother Sandra Glowacki, their TMLC attorney Robert Muise, TMLC head Richard Thompson, and those who support, celebrate, and promote the Thomas More Law Center can be found in paragraph 39 under “Statements of Fact”.

Here on the Glowackis’ behalf, Muise is discussing the situation in public schools in which young gay kids – and kids who didn’t identify as gay but were tormented with homophobia – have been bullied to the point where they can’t take it any more. These kids include:

Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover – Springfield, MA. In April 2009, eleven year old Carl tied an electrical cord around his neck and hung himself. He had been subjected to a constant barrage of harassment at school where he was taunted and threatened by classmates for weeks, calling him gay and making fun of his clothes, before he killed himself.

Eric Mohat – Mentor, OH. April 2009. The seventeen year old was a quiet but likable boy, who was involved in theater and music> He was called “gay,” “fag,” “queer” and “homo”, often in front of his teachers, who did nothing. When one bully said publicly in class, “Why don’t you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you,” he did.

Billy Lucas – Greensburg, IN. September 2010

The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him.

“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” said student Dillen Swango.

Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself.

Asher Brown – Cyprus, TX. September 2010. Asher was thirteen when the straight-A student put the barrel of a gun to his head. He couldn’t take any more of the gay taunts, of kids performing mock sex acts on him in his physical education class. Unlike most others listed here, Asher actually identified as gay and was working with his family to come to terms with his orientation. On the last week of his life he was kicked down a flight of stairs. When he tried to retrieve his book bag, other students kicked his books away. The school “turned up no witnesses.”

Tehachapi teen Seth Walsh, who committed suicide following anti-gay bullyingSeth Walsh – Tehachapi, CA. September 2010. Seth had been picked on for years because he was gay. School administrators said they have an anti-bullying program in place, but schoolmates said staff at Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi offered Seth no protection or guidance. After years of abuse, Seth then thirteen, tied a rope around a tree branch.

Tyler Clementi – Rutgers University. September 2010. Tyler had a date and asked his roommate if he could have the room to himself. His roommate agreed, secretly turning on a camera connected to his computer and rushing to another student’s room where they broadcast Tyler’s encounter on the internet. After having his private life exposed – and tweeted about – Tyler, eighteen, leaped to his death in the Hudson River. He is the only one whose “homosexual acts” got as far as a kiss.

Lance Lundsten – Alexandria, Minnesota. January 2011. After Lance took his life by means of a drug overdose, the local newspaper began a campaign of disinformation and lies – with the Lundsten family’s consent – seeking to claim that Lance died of a heart condition. It went so far as to scold his classmates and “anti-bullying groups” for reflecting badly on the city and the school by revealing that Lance had been bullied and tormented.

Jamey Rodemeyer – Williamsville, NY. September 2011. Jamie was always under pressure because of struggles with his sexuality. Jamey’s mother Tracy Rodemeyer said, “So he hung around with the girls a lot, so then the teasing started happening like ‘Oh you’re such a girl or you’re gay or whatever and that bothered him for many years.” After Jamey, at fourteen, killed himself, “those who believe it is wrong and immoral” turned on his sister.

At a homecoming dance she attended shortly after her brother’s death, a potentially poignant moment turned ugly after a song by Lady Gaga, Jamey’s favorite artist, who recently dedicated a song at a concert in his memory.

“She was having a great time, and all of a sudden a Lady Gaga song came on, and they all started chanting for Jamey, all of his friends,’’ Jamey’s mother, Tracy, told Curry. “Then the bullies that put him into this situation started chanting, ‘You’re better off dead!’ and ‘We’re glad you’re dead!’ and things like that.

“My daughter came home all upset. It was supposed to be a time for her to grieve and have fun with her friends, and it turned into bullying even after he’s gone.’’

“I can’t grasp it in my mind,’’ said Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s father. “ I don’t know why anyone would do that. They have no heart, that’s basically what it comes down to.’’

Jamie Hubley – Ottawa, Ontario. October 2011. Jamie was the only openly gay student at his school, a sensitive kid who was struggling with being out in high school and often felt the sting of verbal bullying.

Jacob Rogers – Ashland City, Tennessee. December 2011. Jacob was bullied for the past four years, but in the past few months it had become so bad he dropped out of school. This month, Jacob ended his life. Eighteen years old. This month.

“He started coming home his senior year saying ‘I don’t want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a faggot, they call me gay, a queer,’” friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.

But the Thomas More Law Center has a unique perspective about Carl and Eric and Billy and Asher and Seth and Tyler and Lance and Jamie and Jamey and Jacob and Roger.

In the minds on these people, it was not cruelty that is to blame. It isn’t being pushed down stairs. It isn’t being shoved into lockers. It isn’t being laughed at or condemned or being beaten bloody. It isn’t being tormented daily while the teachers looked on and did nothing. It isn’t having your private moments broadcast for the world to see.

No, Glowacki and Muise and Thompson are Catholics. And though none of the kids who committed suicide did anything which any rational person could condemn, nothing that could even be dismissed as a “homosexual lifestyle”, dangerous or otherwise, they aren’t the victims here. No, it’s the bullies that be defended.

Because Daniel Glowacki, Sandra Glowacki, Robert Muise, and Richard Thompson “are Catholics”. And “as Catholics, they are morally bound to follow the universal, consistent moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” which “reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world.” And it is their Catholicism which leads them to describe the deaths of Carl and Eric and Billy and Asher and Seth and Tyler and Lance and Jamie and Jamey and Jacob and Roger in this way:

In each of his classes, Defendant McDowell explained to his students that October 20th was nationally recognized as “anti-bullying” day, and he showed his students a movie about teenagers who committed suicide because they were homosexual.

And who made you gay? Hmmmm? Could it be…. SATAN!?!

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2011

One of the cleverest characters to have been created for Saturday Night Live was Dana Carvey’s Church Lady. Enid Strict, as host of show-within-a-show Church Chat, would interview guests focusing on their real or imagined failings and attribute them to … (pause for effect) … SATAN!

Her colorful euphemisms (e.g. “naughty parts all engorged and tingling”) and smug superiority made the Church Lady an instant cultural reference point. But the real success of Carvey’s character was based on the recognizable attitudes she espoused. Yes, Church Lady was way over the top, but only slightly more over the top than the very real people on religious television that she parodied.

And it would seem that the Church Lady’s proclivity to see Satan as the personal instigator of all manner of things is still alive and well. Take, for example, an amusing but real illustration out of Massachusetts.

The Pilot Catholic News is “America’s oldest Catholic newspaper” and the “Official Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston”. And on October 28, the Church shared with us the wisdom of Daniel Avila, a policy adviser at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I give Avila some credit. He has, after all, accurately articulated the problem that I have with the conservative theology on the matter of sexual orientation.

That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants.

Yeah, though I’d use different phrasing, that’s pretty much what I believe. Either the Church is misunderstanding the will of God, or the god they serve is a petty bully delighting in his own cruelty.

But Avila has discovered the flaw in my thinking. As it turns out, sexual orientation is not a naturally occurring phenomenon present in a stable minority of humans and illustrating either God’s intent or His consent. Nope. Avila’s found another culprit.

His logic goes like this: God wants us to be male or female, as evidenced by “male and female genes”. And as same-sex attraction is likely the result of “random imbalances in maternal hormone levels” and “their disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development”, then surely someone is causing those imbalances in order to thwart God’s intent.

And who is it that’s making all those male genes want to design ballgowns and those female genes want to play softball? Hmmmm? Could it be…. SATAN?!?

Why yes. It could.

Catholics do not have the luxury of being materialists. We look for ultimate explanations that transcend the strictly physical world and that stretch beyond our limited ability to mold and reshape reality as we know it. Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart.

In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture’s account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God’s handiwork.

Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God.

Well that’s nice. It turns out that you are a product of Satan.

So if you think little Johnny is demon possessed because he’d rather play dolls with his sister than hit her with a toy truck, Avila’s theology is the one for you. And if you beat little Johnny to death because of his demons, well surely the Church can understand your holy stance for righteousness.

And they printed it. Really. The Editors of the Pilot Catholic News (the Official Newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston) didn’t notice any problem with an editorial that claimed gay people were created by the devil.

Well, not until those outside the enclave of the faithful read it and either were horrified or laughed their asses off. Then they recalled that the words they were supposed to use in public were “image and likeness of God” and “inviolable dignity”, not “spawn of Satan”.

Ooopsie

And so a “retraction” was issued.

“Statements made in my column, ‘Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction’ of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused.”

I put retraction in quotes because, to me, if you are taking back some truly evil and vile thing you have just said about people, you don’t use the opportunity to “proclaim the sanctity” of denying those people’s rights. That is neither apology or retraction but rather a smug pat on his own back.

And, while I’m at it, I’m sick of the Catholic Church opposing “unjust discrimination.” Guess what, Avila? The distinction between “unjust” discrimination and “just” discrimination isn’t determined by whether or not you want to engage in it. Justice isn’t defined as “what the Church endorses”.

So you can stop doing your little Superior Dance.

And now the latest word is that Daniel Avila has resigned his advisor position. And the church gratefully accepted his resignation.

Which solves everything, doesn’t it?

Sure, except that behind the pretty-speak about being children of God, we know what they really think. Avila is not alone. His column passed the editorial staff without question and he’s received no rebuke from the church.

And the next time the Roman Catholic Church tries to appeal to their moral values to take away civil rights from you and those you love, remember this: they may say that they love you, but that love is the same love they would feel for any other vile creatures created by Satan himself.

Well now, isn’t that special?

- – - -
thanks to Ned for the links and the copy of the original article

The Pilot pulled the opinion piece (who could blame them) but you can read it after the break
Read the rest of this entry »

Yet Another Poll Shows Young Evangelicals’ Increased Support for Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2011

The Washington Post points to a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute released in late August that found a huge generation gap between young Evangelical Christians and seniors in support for same-sex marriage. PPRI found that there is at least a 20-point gap between Millennials (age 18 to 29) overall regardless of religious affiliation and seniors (age 65 and older) on every public policy position concerning LGBT people. The survey found that 62% of Millennials favor allowing same-sex marriage, 69% are okay with gay couples adopting children, 71% favor civil unions and 79% favor employment anti-discrimination measures. Sixty-nine percent of Millennials overall believe that religious groups are alienating young people by being anti-gay.

The gap persists among Evangelicals as well. Forty-four percent of white Evangelical Millennials favor marriage equality, as opposed to 12% of Evangelical seniors.

Taking religion out of the equation, the same poll also found that 49% of Republican Millennials also favor marriage equality, in contrast to 19% of Republican seniors and 31% of Republicans overall.

The same poll also found that 52% of self-identified Catholics favor allowing gay people to marry, and an identical proportion believe that gay relationships are not a sin. What’s more, 46% of Catholics think the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality is too conservative, 43% think it’s about right, and only 6% think it is too liberal. Among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, 37% overall think the church is too conservative on gay issues while 54% say it is about right. This poll also confirms earlier findings that there is a significant ethnic division among Catholics on this issue, with 55% of Hispanic Catholics believing the church is too conservative on homosexuality, compared to 43% of white non-Hispanic Catholics holding the same view.

The poll’s margins of error: ±2% for the general sample, 3.7% for white Evangelicals, 3.9% for Catholics, 8.3% for Latino Catholics, 4.5% for Millennials, 3.8% for seniors, and 3.5% for Republicans. No margin of error was given for white Evangelicals Millennials or for white Evangelical seniors.

The Catholic Church’s significant impact on marriage opinion

Timothy Kincaid

July 29th, 2011

The Washington Post has a new opinion poll out which indicates that support for marriage equality in New York continues to be greater than opposition. Politico provides some analysis on the demographic breakdowns.

Of particular interest are the responses of Catholics. The Catholic Church (and its quasi-secular adjunct, The National Organization for Marriage) was the primary voice of opposition to legal marriage rights. Bishops loudly (and sometimes rather nastily) denounced efforts to recognize same-sex couples and sought to mobilize the Roman Catholic Church’s large membership in response.

So I was interested in discovering if the Church and its teaching had any impact on the political position of the Catholic New Yorkers. And it does appear as though the Church’s teaching has significantly impacted its parishioners’ views on the subject.

Catholics are broadly supportive of the measure, with nearly 60 percent saying they view the new law favorably, although support drops off among those who attend church less frequently.

So those who go to mass more often support marriage even more? Well, preach on, Padre.

UPDATE: Alas, sad news. Politico made a typo (drat them) and it turns out that the churchy Catholics are actually less supportive of equality (48%) than the stay-at-home variety (66%).

And I also got the poll population wrong. It asked a question about the New York marriage law in addition to the more general support question and my brain evidently started the weekend before me. (thanks, Matt, for the corrections.)

Poll: 74% of Catholics Support Recognizing Same-Sex Unions

Jim Burroway

March 24th, 2011

The Public Religion Research Institute has released a poll that probably won’t come as much of a surprise among Catholics. According to the poll, nearly three quarters of Americna Catholics favor legal recognition of same-sex union, either in the form of civil unions (31%) or marriage (43%) Only 22% of Catholics oppose all legal recognition of same-sex couples. When same-sex marriage is explicitly defined as civil marriage, support shoots up higher: 71% then support same sex civil marriages “like you get at city hall.”

This shouldn’t be surprising for two reasons. First, Catholics have now had 43 years of clergy demanding that they refrain from artificial birth control, a teaching that the average Catholic in the pews has roundly rejected. And having rejected one teaching that the Church considers a key teaching on sexuality, they are more than willing to reconsider other teaching as well. Besides, longtimes Catholics will tell you that the image of the meek Catholic obediently following church teaching died out generations ago, at about the same time the Catholic Church stopped being an immigrant church and became, at least for American parishes, an American church.

There’s something else going on as well. Catholics are very aware of the distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage. As every Catholic will tell you, you can be married at city hall or at an Elvis chapel in Vegas, but the marriage doesn’t exist as far as the Church is concerned. And as divorced Catholics know very well, you can have all of the divorce decrees and marriage licenses you can collect from civil authorities, but no priest will marry you unless the Church decides you’re qualified to be married.

The conservative CatholicVote.org thinks they have an answer for these poll results:

Who is driving the numbers behind the headline: “Catholic support same-sex marriage”? Catholics who are almost never in the pews. And yet, when it comes to the headlines, Catholics who can’t even trouble themselves to get to Mass with any sort of regularity are lumped in with faithful Catholics who actually try to follow the teachings of the Church.

Nice try, but that’s not the whole story. Sure, the poll leans heavily toward Catholics who go to church less than once a week (61% of all respondents), but look at the results among regular churchgoing Catholics. The percentage who supports either marriage or civil unions still reaches 64% among Catholics who attend church weekly or more often.

The report (PDF: 351KB/23 pages) does not describe the poll’s margin of error, sample size, or methodology.

More, more, more amicus

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2010

Three more amicus briefs were filed today in addition to those of Ed Whelan and Liberty Counsel.

The American Center for Law and Justice (Jay Sekulow) wrote:

II. MORALITY IS A LEGITIMATE BASIS FOR LEGISLATION.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558(2003), did not abolish the legitimacy of morality as a state interest. Indeed, to have done so would have been both revolutionary and destructive, as morality has long been recognized as a basis for law, and countless laws today rest upon morality. The district court therefore erred in dismissing moral considerations out of hand.

Something called The Hausvater Project, which appears to be related to the parochial schools of the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod filed to support “the right of parents to determine their children’s education”. This one flummoxed me; I have no idea what they are talking about.

Parents have a fundamental right to determine their children’s education, protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause. California citizens voting in favor of Prop. 8 (“Prop. 8 Supporters”) had, and on their behalf the defendant-intervenors-appellants (“Prop. 8 Proponents”) in this case continue to have, good reason to regard Prop. 8 as a safeguard of that fundamental constitutional right. Since the safeguarding of a constitutional right properly serves the state’s interest, the district court erred in concluding that Prop. 8 serves no legitimate or compelling state interest. Moreover, parents’ fundamental right to determine their children’s education should take priority over the competing claims of plaintiffs-appellees Kristin Perry et al./same-sex couples (“Prop. 8 Opponents”) who plea for Equal Protection and Due Process rights to same-sex marriage.

It seems that they are arguing that because the Proposition 8 campaign played on the fears of parents (“I learned in class that a prince could marry another prince, and I can marry a princess!”) that therefore it is based in the constitutional right of parents to make sure that public schools condemn the things which they condemn. Or something like that.

Which is an odd argument coming from an organization of parochial schools.

The second part of their argument was that allowing gay people to marry would have a “chilling impact” on the religious freedoms of those who want to stop them. If governments actually treat gay people as full citizens and if schools refer to them as such, then it greatly reduces the impact of those who preach from pulpits that they are not.

Far from furthering a state interest, such religious organizations would be in opposition to a state interest, at least insofar as one accepts the district court’s own identifications of the state’s interest and the religious groups’ motivations. This is not small potatoes.

And if Judge Walker’s decision is left intact it would lead to “nothing short of the abolition of parochial schools and homeschooling.” And then they really go bat-poop crazy. It’s all a plan on the part of the homosexuals to destroy family and society; first they redefine marriage and then they’ll take away our children.

A tremendous burden falls now to this court as to whether those asserting the freedom to chose a spouse of the same sex can secure that socially constructed status apart from denying, with increasing tenacity, the fundamental right of a man and a woman to direct the education of the children whom nature calls their own. The social engineers of incremental strategies favoring same-sex marriage have themselves answered the question in the negative. Whatever disappointment a reversal of the district court’s decision may bring to the particular homosexual couples who originated the complaint, at least they will be liberated from serving as pawns in a larger scheme that ultimately would constrain not only their neighbors’ liberties, but also their own.

And finally we have the amicus brief of

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The California Catholic Conference
The National Association of Evangelicals
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Calvary Chapel Fellowship of Ministries of California
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc.
The Council of Korean Churches in Southern California
Southern California Korean Ministers Association
Holy Movement for America

Believe me, other than all being in the broad category of “Christian” and being devoted to the condemnation of gay people and bringing harm to their lives, these folks have nothing in common. It takes a powerful amount of joint purpose, in this case their religious-based animus towards gay people, to get them in the same room.

And I do find it interesting just who is not present in this joint statement. This, more than most any other document, draws the line between combatants over the religious direction of the nation.

We write separately to answer the district court’s distortion and condemnation of our beliefs as irrational and illegitimate and to defend the constitutional right of citizens and associations of faith to participate fully in the democratic process. Contrary to the aspersions cast by the decision below, our beliefs about marriage are not based on hatred or bigotry. Our support for traditional marriage has vastly more to do with a rich tapestry of affirmative teachings about marriage and family than with doctrines directed at the issue of homosexuality. To be sure, our religious beliefs hold that all sexual acts outside traditional marriage are contrary to God’s will. But our faiths also entreat us to love and embrace those who reject our beliefs, not to hate or mistreat them. Bigotry is contrary to our most basic religious convictions.

A bit ironic when you consider that the purpose of this brief is not to love and embrace those who reject their beliefs, but rather to force by law those beliefs which they cannot persuade through preaching.

Faith communities and religious organizations have a long and vibrant history of upholding marriage as the union of a man and a woman for reasons that have little or nothing to do with homosexuality. Indeed, their support for traditional marriage precedes by centuries the very notion of homosexuality as a recognized sexual orientation (see ER106), not to mention the recent movement for same-sex marriage. Many of this nation’s prominent faith traditions have rich religious narratives that describe and extol the personal, familial, and social virtues of traditional marriage while mentioning homosexuality barely, if at all.

Except, of course, that every single denomination listed decries homosexuality as sinful, rebellious, or evil. Without exception.

The gist of their argument is that it is unfair of Judge Walker to take a side in the religious culture war, that they have the right to try and vote their religious beliefs into law, and besides they loooooove the homosexual, they just want to grant special privilege to those who follow their beliefs.

NY St. Pattys Day Parade – more anti-gay than Irish

Timothy Kincaid

September 22nd, 2010

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, who control and operate the St. Patrict’s Day Parade in New York City, have long opposed allowing gay Irishmen to participate as such. This is matter of pride as good Irish Catholics.

Of course, real good Irish Catholics don’t have so much of a problem with Teh Ghey. The Irish in Ireland seem to be rather fond of gay folk. So much so, that the President of Ireland declined an offer to be Grand Marshall of the parade if they wouldn’t let gay folk participate. (Irish Central)

Irish President Mary McAleese has turned down an invitation to be grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2011, the historic 250th anniversary of the event.

The turn down is said to be connected to the issue of gays being refused the right to march in the parade under their own banners, and McAleese’s strong relationship with gay and lesbian organizations in Ireland.

Although having President McAleese (a devout Catholic) as Grand Marshall on this important anniversary would have been quite a coup for the AOH, it was far more important that they keep gay Irish people out of the Irish celebration.

Tensions Rise in Guadalajara

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2010
YouTube Preview Image

Gay rights supporters during Sunday morning's protest in Guadalajara

First off, let me begin by saying that I’m having trouble with the AP’s headline (“Mexican Catholics, gay rights protesters face off“) because more than three-quarters of all Mexicans identify as Roman Catholic, including undoubtedly a similar proportion of LGBT Mexicans. But tensions do appear to be rising in Guadalajara, home to Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, who accused the mayor of Mexico City of bribing the nation’s Supreme Court to find that Mexico City’s marriage equality law was constitutional. The Court then followed that with another ruling declaring that LGBT people cannot be discriminated against in adoption. As Timothy Kincaid noted, Iniguez’ head exploded, and claimed he had “proof” that the fix is in. But also in that LA Times story, we have this:

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara and one of the most senior prelates in the nation, in recent days made especially harsh comments widely seen here as offensive. His statement set off a firestorm in a country where, by law, the church is not supposed to get involved in politics.

Calling same-sex unions an “aberration,” he said, “Would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots or lesbians?”

So that set the stage for Sunday morning’s march by LGBT advocates at the plaza next to Guadalajara’s Cathedral. According to the AP, they were met by a similar number of protesters opposed to the court’s decision. The AP reports that “One of them ripped up a sign held by a gay rights activist, prompting screaming by both sides.”

Writing for the blog for the magazine U.S. Catholic, Bryan Cones laments the Cardinal’s rhetoric, and called him out in particular for hurling anti-gay epithets. And for good reason:

Indeed, the Catholic side of this debate must tread carefully, for several reasons. First, there are many gay and lesbian people in the church, called by God into it through their baptism. Catholic conversation about homosexuality must always keep in mind that we are talking about members of the body of Christ here.

Second, there are more and more Catholic families with openly gay and lesbian children, many of whom are grown and have partners and families of their own. The blood of family being thicker than the waters of baptism, the participants in the Catholic debate about gay marriage must recognize that many Catholic parents long ago accepted the sexuality of their gay children, have come to love their partners, and treasure the grandchildren they have through them.

Cones cited the poll we discussed last month which found that Latino Catholics in California were more likely to vote for marriage equality than any other religious/ethnic combination surveyed, and said, “That’s the family dynamic at work.”

Update: According to this Spanish language report, another confrontation occurred Saturday afternoon between about 400 conservative Catholics and approximately 150 LGBT advocates. The war of words was rough, according to my rough translation:

En ese momento se desató una guerra de consignas: “¡guerra-guerra contra lucifer!” y “¡adopten un perro maricones!”, gritaban los católicos encarando a los grupos gay, quienes respondieron: “¡nos vamos a casar y vamos a adoptar, nos vamos a casar y vamos a adoptar!”

“¡Ustedes dense, pero dejen a los niños en paz!”, profirió un joven católico haciendo la seña del acto sexual; además, ponían el pulgar hacia abajo en señal de desaprobación, y en respuesta los integrantes de la diversidad sexual gritaban “¡pederastas!”

[That's when a war of words broke out: "War! War against Lucifer" and "Adopt dogs, faggots!" shouted the Catholics confronting the gay groups, who responded, "We're getting married and we're going to adopt, we're getting married and we're going to adopt!"

"Go ahead, but leave the kids alone," shouted a young Catholic while making a gesture of a sexual act, and then putting his thumbs down in disapproval. And in response, members of the sexual diversity groups were shouting, "Pedophiles!"

Second Update: My translation of "¡Ustedes dense" as "Go ahead" may be a bit off, according to commenters. I can usually handle straight-on Spanish, but idiomatic expressions often elude me. This one apparently has a crude sexual connotation as well, sort of on the lines of "Go f*ck yourselves." Classy people, aren't they?]

Meanwhile, the College of Catholic Lawyers of Mexico announced that will file a request for impeachment before  Mexico’s lower House of Congress against the Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality.

Anne Rice: “I Quit Being A Christian”

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2010

Anne Rice, the New Orleans novelist who single-handedly made vampires cool again, was raised as a Roman Catholic. But like most cultural Catholics, the church wasn’t something that she took seriously. That changed in 2004 following surgery for a life-threatening intestinal blockage, when she announced that she would henceforth “write only for the Lord.” She embraced her Catholic roots and published her next novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which was intended to be the start of a series chronicling the life of Jesus. Her next novel, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, came out in 2008.

But her embrace of Catholicism was of a personal and spiritual nature, and as is not unusual among Catholics, didn’t extend to social issues:

Her views will not please all of the devout. Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, “sex-obsessed” church leaders, and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church.

“Think of how the church bells would ring and the pews would fill if women could become priests and priests could marry. It would be the great resurgence of the Catholic Church in this country.”

But Rice was ultimately unable to reconcile her belief in Christ on the one hand, with the actions of fellow Christians and how those actions have stained the Christian “brand” on the other. She appears to have hinted at this with this post on her facebook page which appeared on Tuesday:

Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian)become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?

She answered her question yesterday morning, when she posted this to her facebook page:

For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

She then followed that a couple minutes later with this:

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

She followed those posts with two more quotations from the Book of Matthew posted on her facebook page as part of an ongoing set of discussions. So it appears that she hasn’t quit Jesus, just his followers on earth.

The Latino Catholic-Protestant Divide on Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

July 23rd, 2010

Why is the AFA’s Bryan Fischer so animated against Catholic Latino immigration? Well it turns out a new poll by Public Religion Research Institute was released today on “Religion, Proposition 8, and Same-Sex Marriage in California.” The poll examines the attitudes of various religious communities in California toward same-sex marriage. The must surprising finding was that Latinos overall were supportive of marriage equality (PDF: 397KB/26 pages):

There is a striking Catholic-Protestant divide within the California Latino community on public policy issues related to gay and lesbian rights.

  • A majority of Latino Catholics (57%) say they would vote to make same-sex marriage legal, compared to just 22% of Latino Protestants.
  • The Catholic-Protestant gap within the Latino community is evident across a range of gay and lesbian public policy issues.

This leaves the Latino community almost evenly divided on the issue, with 49% of Latinos regardless of religious affiliation supporting same-sex marriage, and 46% opposed. (Note: I have not been able to determine the margins of error for these smaller subsamples.) But Latinos overall appear more likely to shift toward a more pro-gay position, with 31% of Catholic Latinos and 25% of Protestant Latinos saying they have become more supportive, vs. 22% of White Californians saying the same thing. Only 9% of Catholic Latinos and 15% of Protestant Latinos report having become less supportive.

One interesting finding is in who Californians trust as sources of information about homosexuality:

  • White evangelical Protestants, Latino Protestants, and black Protestants all ranked their own clergy leaders as the most trusted source of information about homosexuality.
  • Both white and Latino Catholics say they trust the parents of gay or lesbian children more than their own clergy as a source of information about homosexuality.

Joseph M. Palacios, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University, cites three likely reasons for these findings:

Family First: Latino Catholics orient their social lives around the family and extended family even in the context of high Latino single-parent households (estimated 33% of all U.S. Latino households; 36% of all Latino Children in California live in single-parent households). Family solidarity is strong and even though children may not follow “traditional family values” as projected by the church and the U.S. society, parents want to keep their children within the family. It is not surprising that Catholics in general and Latino Catholics in particular, as the Public Religion Research study shows, see that parents learn about gay issues from their children. Their moral and ethical judgments are primarily made through this social reality rather than abstract pronouncements from their church leaders.

Catholic Communal versus Protestant Individual Faith: Catholicism is a communal faith that highlights the life cycle process through the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, and marriage. Families experience their moral lives through communal participation in the sacraments, as well as the Latino community’s cultural observances of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Posadas, Dia de los Muertos, etc. Protestant Latinos, on the other hand, have a faith that is individually driven through faith conversion (“accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”) that often separates a person from the Catholic sacramental life cycle process and the social fabric of the Catholic-based cultural celebrations. …

Latino Catholic Tolerance versus Protestant Fundamentalist Judgment:Catholics allow complexity and ambiguity in moral decision-making since Catholicism is neither fundamentalist nor literalist regarding the Bible. Rather, Catholics can weigh factors such as the Bible, church teaching, and social reality affecting decision-making. Latino Catholics in the United States live in this social context that allows the free exercise of conscience rather than enforced scriptural fundamentalism or bishops’ and pastors’ exhortations in making decisions regarding homosexuality and gay rights– as is often exercised in Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical denominations and now by increasingly doctrinaire Catholic bishops. Further, as noted in the study, Catholic priests rarely mention homosexuality or gay issues in sermons except when forced to by the bishops as happened during the Prop 8 campaign.

Palacios cites another possible factor: Latino Catholics’ centuries of historical experience with the Church dictating political policy. Many Latin-American revolutions were as much rebelions against heavy church influence as they were rebellions against Spanish rule. (And Spain, too, has finally shaken off the Franco-era’s close political collusion with the Church in state affairs.) Latino Catholics know, perhaps far better than others, the benefits of a strong church-state separation.

What does one wear to a machination of the Father of Lies?

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2010

From the increasingly histrionic Catholic news site, LiveSiteNews:

Argentina’s number one Catholic prelate, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, is calling upon the priests of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires to bring their flocks to an upcoming protest against homosexual “marriage,” which is currently under consideration by the nation’s senate.

“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God,” writes Bergoglio in a letter sent to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, where he is archbishop. “We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Which makes me think, if I’m ever invited to something so important as to require the direct coordination of Old Scratch himself, I should dress up. Do you think red Prada slippers are appropriate for a gay wedding? After all, the Pope wears them to all his formal functions.

Catholic Charities Ends Spousal Benefits

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2010

In a bid to avoid inadvertently providing spousal benefits to gay men and women who happen to be employees, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. , has taken the extraordinary step of ending spousal benefits for all of its employees, the Washington City Paper reports.

Catholic Charities President and CEO Edward Orzechowski sent a memo out to employees yesterday informing them that spouses’ who have already been enrolled in the health plan would continue to receive care under a grandfather clause, but that new employees or newly married employees would no longer be eligible to obtain coverage for their spouses through Catholic Charities.

The change goes into effect today. The District of Columbia will begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning on March 4.

According to the Washington Post, Catholic Charities employs 850 people in the District and five surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties, but fewer than 100 use the spousal benefits option.

Michigan Christians sue because the Matthew Shepherd Act restricts their rights. They must want to violently attack gay people

Timothy Kincaid

February 5th, 2010

Hate crimes, as defined by Federal law, are violent crimes that are motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Matthew Shepard Act is very clear that it relates to violent crimes, not to preaching:

(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.

(4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

However, the Thomas Moor Law Group has filed a lawsuit on the behalf of some “Christians” who feel that this law restricts them from observing their faith. (Christian Post)

Four Christians on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the recently enacted Hate Crimes Prevention Act, arguing that it seeks to criminalize deeply held religious beliefs that are in opposition to homosexuality.

The 27-page long complaint was submitted by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan and Pastors Levon Yuille, James Combs, and Rene B. Ouellette, who are also based in Michigan. It names U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., as the defendant.

We must assume that the Thomas More Law Center has read the law. And because the law has no effect on their rights to belief or expression of belief, the only logical conclusion is that these four Christians wish to plan for, conspire to commit, or commit an act of violence.

Or, perhaps, this is just another example of folks who think that because “homosexual acts, according to Scripture, are acts of grave depravity that are intrinsically disordered and are contrary to the natural law” then their religion trumps civil law.

Sometimes I can’t figure out if they are arrogant and opposed the basic principles of civil liberties and equality or if they really truly wish they were free to beat us in the streets.

Ugandan Church Leaders Back “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2009

The independent Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor reports on a meeting of 200 religious leaders held in Entebbe this week in which participants encouraged the government to cut diplomatic ties to all countries demanding withdrawal of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Parliament.

The meeting brought together church leaders representing Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist churches as well as Muslim kadhis. Participants pledged to actively campaign for the bill in their houses of worship. According to the Monitor:

At their three-day meeting in Entebbe this week, the spiritual leaders came up with several recommendations that are opposed to homosexuals. “Government should cut ties with donor communities and other groups which support ungodly values such as homosexuality and abortion,” one of the resolutions reads.

…The Secretary General of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Mr Joshua Kitakule, told Daily Monitor yesterday that development partners should not  interfere in the process of legislation in Uganda.

“Those countries should respect our spiritual values. They shouldn’t interfere,” he said. “All senior religious leaders have been given copies of the Bill to read and educate people in the churches and mosques,” he added. Mr Kitakule said the Bill, which was tabled last month by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, has not been understood by human rights activists and homosexuals. “The Bill is ok. But it has been misunderstood. We need to educate people on this proposed law,” he said.

Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the bill into Parliament, was also at the conference and spoke in favor of the legislation. Echoing Richard CohenDon Schmierer, Scott Lively and other American ex-gay advocates, Bahati said:

“It is a learned behaviour and can be unlearned. You can’t tell me that people are born gays.   It is foreign influence that is on work,” he said.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

A New Outing Website

Jim Burroway

November 18th, 2009

What Mike Rogers has been doing with closeted gay politicians who work against the gay community, Phil Attey wants to do to gay priests

Every Sunday, for generations, hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian American Catholic youth are told in church, they need to be ashamed of who they are and are deemed to live loveless lives as social and religious abominations.   The emotional, psychological and spiritual pain inflicted on them by Catholic priests and our church hierarchy is more damaging than any level of physical or sexual child abuse that is quickly condemned in our society.  

More shameful is that this abuse is being inflicted by men, many of whom are gay themselves, leading  closeted lives of self-persecution and quiet desperation.

Most shameful, is that many of these priests, while remaining silent, lead dual lives filled with romantic and sexual relationships.

There’s a fine line between legitimate investigation and waging a public vigilante campaign. Rogers carefully collects testimony and eyewitness accounts, checks details, demands corroboration, and then only goes public once he know he’s on solid ground (he does have legal liability to consider) and is dealing with a politician who us actively working or voting against the LGBT community. In my opinion, that’s the difference between conducting an honest investigation of corruption and dishonesty versus waging a public vigilante campaign. If I hope this web site facilitates the former and not the latter, and that’s what it appears to be set up to do.

But if it ends up outing gay priests without regard to what they preach or whether they act against the LGBT community, then that would be a problem because the Vatican is already working that beat.

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